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Collecting Typography - Portland, Oregon

Typography spotted around Portland

Our trip to Portland was every bit as fun as we had hoped it would be and a lot less pretentious than we had feared. Before our trip, people had frequently told us that Portland was 'home of the hipsters' and while I've never seen an episode of Portlandia I was aware of the negative aspects portrayed in the show.

Perhaps it was that Portland had moved on over the years, the fact that we didn't really go downtown or maybe Portland was never really as full of beardy faux-lumberjacks types as people made it out to be. Either way, Portland was a friendly, creative space, full of character.

Despite the unusually hot weather (a sweaty 35 degrees) we walked around the city as much as we could each day, before admitting defeat and retreating to an airconditioned bar to draw and wait for the sun to set. Invariably being told by the staff that our plans to move on to New Orleans next would result in disappointment (spoiler: it wasn't).

My overall impression of Portland was that a lot of the small businesses were more familiar with graphic designers than their counterparts this side of the pond, even some of the smallest places had strong visual identities. There is definitely a strong connection to the landscape in a lot of the brand identities, a reflection of how green the city is and rather like my hometown, Edinburgh, you can easily find yourself in a wooded area or hiking up a mountain a few minutes after walking down a busy city street.

A lot of the typography had a wooden element to it, whether it was an illustrated grain texture, lettering on distressed wooden surfaces or a chunky carved style to the lettering.

A lot of businesses had fun leaning into the idiosyncrasies of hand-drawn and handwritten signs which allow the creativity and humour of the staff to shine through.

Some of my favourite images of the trip.

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